All of us make mistakes. In the process, our feelings are hurt. We hurt others too. However, it’s important to move on.What is the solution?Offer an apology when we are caught on the wrong foot and accept an apology when others do wrong to us.

Quality of an apology

The quality and effectiveness of an apology is determined by: expression of remorse, acceptance of responsibility, and an offer of repair. During our private and public dealings, we keep on giving, receiving, or demanding apologies, yet we rarely make clear what we expect from such a gesture of contrition or what lesson we have learned.

Some people use apology as an EXIT Door. Their apologies come from their mind and not from the cockles of their heart. I once asked a Cell Phone company employee, on phone,how many times heapologises to his company clients, like me, in one shift? “Maybe 20-25 times”,pat came the reply with giggles as a freebie. Bank officials also, on occasions, use apology as an exit door. But if we make a minor mistake, we are slapped with financial penalties.

Bosses also play the same game, when they are caught on the wrong foot.If an apology is not from the heart and without remorse, it is foolery. Those who carry a huge ego, hate to say sorry from their heart and keep on repeating offending behaviour in public or private. Some folks are utterly remorseful and regret their offenses.

Some make a mountain out of a mole. Many people are sharp tongued. These create a tempest in a teapot.Every one is blaming few others. Timing is everything. Generally speaking, an immediate apology is more effective than a late one. Many people while tendering a sincere apology include the an explanation. In case it carries acknowledgement of harm caused, and the admission of wrong-doing it is a perfect apology.

The apology discussion time should be to the point. We cannot change our family members, colleagues and even very dear trustworthy friends. Therefore, a sincereheart-felt apology is the solution. We have to ensure that our apologies are regarded as sincere rather than vague and clumsy or spiteful? To the point apologies are much more effective at promoting reconciliation and decreasing anger and blame towards the mistake-maker because they are judged by victims as being more sincere.

An unscripted apology is most effective, when it is conveyed early and quickly.It looks more believable and genuine and thereby soothes the hurt inflicted knowingly or unknowingly.Sometimes an apology is weak, especially for a major mistake, if there is no expression of remorse, no acceptance of responsibility, and no offer of repair in it. If acknowledgement of harm and admission of wrongdoing is there,then for those reasons this apology is OK.

One should use emotional intelligence to offer an apology. Most people want to maintain their selfworth and integrity. Hurting others, especially in such a personal and gratuitous way, can threaten our selfperception that we’re good and appropriate. Further, an admission of fault, acknowledging that he’s hurt others, and seeking forgiveness work like a soothing balm on the bruised dignity and respect. We should not justify our bad behaviour.

We should be ever ready to forgive others particularly in the light of the fact that we also make mistakes.Some people do try to play smart. They manipulate apology and befool others. An apology coming very late is fraught with the risk that it is not fair. Those who carry a huge ego and threaten people with their bad behaviour continuously can be remorseless in their apology. No matter however bad your situation is, just say heart felt sorry and it relieves you from the pressure cooker situation. Try it. Be at ease with yourself.

Surinder Shaun

Kochhar LPN, FCN